Saturday, July 6, 2013

On this date in Minnesota history: July 6

July 6, 1889 - 3.2 million acres of land were ceded to the Federal Government by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa in 1889, "in exchange for promises of money, education, health care, and aid to farming. A fifty year trust fund was established. However, 80 percent of Red Lake moneys went into a general fund for all Minnesota Chippewa Indians with only a 14 percent return to Red Lake. 

On [this date], at the signing of the Treaty drawn up by the Rice Commission, Red Lake Chief, May-dway-gwa-no-nind (‘he that is spoken to’) made his last talk at the Council and asked that no liquor be allowed on the reservation, saying, ‘It would be the ruin of all these persons that you see here should that misfortune come to them.’ He also asked that a trader be allowed to live amongst them with stores of goods for the Indians to purchase. He then asked Chairman Rice to sign the Treaty before he did."

Chief May-dway-gwa-no-nind
Chief May-dway-gwa-no-nind

Friday, July 5, 2013

On this date in Minnesota history: July 5

July 5, 1918 - American businessman and entrepreneur Jeno Paulucci was born in Aurora, Minn., on this date. “Paulucci started over 70 companies; among the most well-known ventures included his frozen food company, Michelina's Inc., and food products such as Pizza Rolls and the Chun King line of Chinese food.”

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain July 5, 2013, 
as long as acknowledgement included.  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

On this date in Minnesota history: July 4

July 4, 1907 – “Reports of the terrific hail storm at Cleveland village, Le Sueur County, show that it was without precedent in this part of the state. Sheep and hogs were beaten to death by the huge hailstones and crops in the vicinity were damaged to the extent of many thousands of dollars. The storm was particularly remarkable for the unusual size of the hailstones. Eyewitnesses of the downpour declare that several were picked up [that] measured ten and one-half inches in circumference.”

Tower Weekly News; “Hail Kills Ten Sheep, Chunks of Ice Reported to Have Fallen in Le Sueur County”; July 5, 1907; p. 3.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

On this date in Minnesota history: July 3

July 3, 1907 – “The land opening [in Duluth on this date] was a tame affair. Only twenty applicants were in line for homesteads on the Fond du Lac reservation. Anton Jackeri, who secured the first homestead, had been waiting in line for three weeks.”

Tower Weekly News; “Few File on Land”; July 5, 1907; p. 3.

Example of my g-grandfather's Homestead Papers filed in Duluth in 1905

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On this date in Minnesota history: July 2

July 2, 1863 – When Company E got the orders to charge at Gettysburg, Captain Louis Muller was in command. “During the ensuing [battle] he was killed when he received a gunshot wound to the head and fell headlong forward. Muller's body was returned to Minnesota and he was buried in the St. Michael Cemetery in Bayport near Stillwater.”

Captain Louis Muller

Captain Louis Muller's Gravesite
St. Michael Cemetery in Bayport near Stillwater

Photos taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain July 2, 2013,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Remembering the First Minnesota at Gettysburg – Part I

2013 marks the 150th anniversary of The Battle of Gettysburg, one of the most critical battles of the Civil War, and one where the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment played a pivotal role.

The fighting began July 1, 1863, and ended two days later on July 3. “
It was the battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War and is often described as the war's turning point. Union General George Meade's Army of the Potomac defeated Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, ending Lee's invasion of the North.”1

At the end of the first day's fighting, the Union forces had been pushed out of the town [Gettysburg, Penn.], and occupied the ridge east of the town, extending towards the south, ending at a hill known as Little Round Top.
The First Minnesota, commanded by Colonel William Colvill, arrived the next morning after marching all night, and the men were sent to rest near the top of the hill near where the [First Minnesota Memorial] statue stands today. Two companies, C and F, were detached for guard duty, leaving 262 men remaining. 

Colonel William Colvill3

On July 2, General Lee ordered two Confederate Brigades (about 1600 men each) to attack the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. As the Union line was extremely thin at that time (troops were still arriving), there was immediate danger of a Confederate breakthrough, with disastrous results should that occur.

Cemetery Ridge4

Union Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, seeing the danger, immediately went to the [First] Minnesota, and pointing to the attacking rebels, said, "Charge those lines." Colonel Colvill immediately formed up his unit, ordered them to fix bayonets, and charged the nearest of the two Confederate brigades, Wilcox's Alabama Brigade (commanded by General Cadmus M. Wilcox). Despite being outnumbered five to one, and running through a hail of Confederate fire, the men of the [First] Minnesota crossed 200 yards of open ground to reach the Alabama Brigade. 

Union Major General Winfield Scott Hancock5

The force of the bayonet attack into the Confederate units surprised them, and after sharp, hand-to-hand fighting, the Confederate units withdrew. Yet the [First] Minnesota proudly held their position until nightfall, returning only then back to the Union line. When the fighting stopped, the First Minnesota had lost 82 percent of its men, either killed or wounded, the highest percentage loss of any single unit in a single engagement, ever, in the history of the American Army. Of the 262 men before the battle, only 47 were still available that evening.

The morning of July [3], the First Minnesota was reinforced by the two companies that had been detailed the previous day and had missed the fight. Now numbering about 150 men, they were assigned to defend a position of the line about 400 yards north of where the [First Minnesota Memorial] statue now stands. That day, July [3], Lee attempted to send Major General Pickett's Division through the center of the Union line, the attack known as Pickett's Charge. Again, despite their severe loss of the previous day, the [First] Minnesota was ordered to charge the attacking Confederate Division, which they did, suffering another 55 casualties.

At the end of the battle, the evening of July 3, the First Minnesota had suffered 80 killed, 149 wounded, for a total two day loss of 70 percent of the entire unit. Colonel Colvill was severely wounded, and turned over command to the next senior surviving officer, Captain Henry C. Coates.

On July 2, 1897, the [First Minnesota Memorial] statue, sculpted by Jacob Fjelde, was dedicated at Gettysburg. A few years later, a small obelisk was dedicated at the site where the First Minnesota had repelled Pickett's Charge.

First Minnesota Memorial Monument6

The battle is described in the book, "The Last Full Measure" by Richard Moe. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson).” 

The First Minnesota at Gettysburg, Penn., July 2, 18637

Do you have an ancestor who fought in the Civil War with the First Minnesota?

LLet me help you find out what parts of Minnesota history your family played a role in.

Discover your roots and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.

For more information on my Family History Research services, visit and click on Family History Research in the left-hand column.

The Minnesota History Center in St. Paul currently has a wonderful exhibit on “Minnesota and the Civil War” running until Sept. 8, 2013.

On this date in Minnesota history: July 1

July 1, 1863 – “James A. McGannon, a resident of Anoka who had moved there from Forest City, was killed while on the Kingston Road on the north side of Union Lake in Meeker County [Minn.]. He was probably killed by Little Crow or his party, because when Little Crow was killed near Hutchinson two days later, Little Crow was wearing McGannon's jacket.”

Little Crow

Sunday, June 30, 2013

On this date in Minnesota History: June 30

June 30, 1992 – “A train derailed in Superior, Wis., that sent a tanker car of benzene into the St. Louis River. National media swarmed into the area as a resulting cloud of possibly toxic smoke led to the evacuation of 50,000 area residents of Superior and Duluth.”

Saint Louis River drainage basin

I remember this well. My then 1-year old niece was evacuated from her daycare in Duluth to my parents' house in Cloquet.